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Author Topic: Past, Present and Future Of Photography  (Read 44576 times)

Isaac

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Re: Past, Present and Future Of Photography
« Reply #20 on: September 10, 2015, 03:34:14 pm »

I once read that the difference between humans and animals is that animals "signal" and humans "tell stories."

Humans are animals: humans "signal" and humans "tell stories." :-)
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RSL

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Re: Past, Present and Future Of Photography
« Reply #21 on: September 10, 2015, 04:11:32 pm »

Very interesting discussion. I was especially interested in what Brooks said about the fracturing of our audience. Actually, I think it's always been fractured, just as it has been for any art. Doggerel appeals to a wide audience, but the audience for real poetry always has been small -- smaller now than in earlier times, but always small. There's always been a wide audience for "popular" music, but the great classics -- the music that can give you the kind of transcendental experience that rocks you back on your heels always has been small. Same thing with painting. In the end, the Impressionists won out and the work of their once-popular contemporaries has for all practical purposes disappeared from the face of the earth. Time is the great filter and the good stuff survives, but the audience for any real art always is specialized.
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amolitor

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Re: Past, Present and Future Of Photography
« Reply #22 on: September 10, 2015, 04:57:37 pm »

If you want a different perspective on the Future of Photographer, jump on kickstarter.com.

Search for "photo book"

Sort by "Most Funded" to weed out all the loser projects that won't get funded (or are too new to tell).

There's HUGE MASSES of people out there making HUGE MASSES of Art, putting it into the hands of an audience, making some money, telling their story, getting it out there. Brooks alludes to this, and in generally seems more connected than the other two guys, but I don't think even he's aware of the scale of the thing. Yes it's true, Aperture isn't likely to call you up and offer you a monograph deal.

But the number of people generating small editions of awesome, weighty, serious photographic work is astronomical. There are 100s of credible projects active on kickstarter right now, and that's just one slice of the picture. There are other crowdfunding sites. There are small storefront publishers all over the place. There are people self-funding.
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landscapephoto

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Re: Past, Present and Future Of Photography
« Reply #23 on: September 12, 2015, 04:56:24 am »

If you want a different perspective on the Future of Photographer, jump on kickstarter.com.

Search for "photo book"

Sort by "Most Funded" to weed out all the loser projects that won't get funded (or are too new to tell).

I just did that.

At the time I am writing this, there are 156 photography projects on kickstarter (not only books, all photo projects), of which only 34 are photobooks. I'll compare with related categories: in the "publishing" category (basically: books), there are 588 live projects. In the "film and video" category, there are 720 live projects. The most popular category appears to be the "technology" category, with 769 live projects.

I am not sure I am using the search function correctly, but it seems that "photography" is under-represented. I also had a look at the projects, it seems that the only projects that are actually funded are either photographs from photographers which are already famous (like this one or projects for photographers (like this one, a deck of card representing assignments).

Maybe it is me, but I don't see why you believe that photography is popular on kickstarter.

Now, where I agree with you is when you write that photo forums have a very narrow view of photography. There are plenty of photographers who take pictures completely different to what one sees here and, apparently, are quite successful with them.

Edit: I found out I was using the search function incorrectly, there are more projects than the few I found.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2015, 02:11:57 am by landscapephoto »
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amolitor

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Re: Past, Present and Future Of Photography
« Reply #24 on: September 12, 2015, 09:57:38 am »

I got more like a thousand, but possibly I'm the one using the search function wrong.

Even 34 is a big number. If kickstarter is driving, I don't know, let's say 50 monographs a year, that represents a substantial difference from the picture you get at Barnes & Noble.

Kickstarter is just one slice of the indie publishing world. If your 34 is the right number, it still suggests many hundreds of titles a year finding their audiences, as a credible lower bound.

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Rob C

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Re: Past, Present and Future Of Photography
« Reply #25 on: September 12, 2015, 12:28:13 pm »

Thing is, what's the point of getting published by a small company? The only thing more self-defeating (IMO) is self-publishing. Ego trips are great, but hardly so when they end up costing you money or otherwise remain practically invisible. The real deal or zero, in my head. Doesn't it matter at all that getting published by a main publisher is more than just a book, that it's a huge vote of confidence in the photographer's work? That's the same buzz as from landing a prize commercial assignment. Just imagine the feeling if you landed the next Pirelli! I wish.

I've put together two photo-books, but unless some major publisher bites, I'm just as happy they stay on HDs. In my own world of references, going minor is the equivalent of doing a calendar for the local florist as compared with producing one for a major whisky company. Why bother?

Black & White, the glossy magazine begun a decade or two ago for 'collectors', yeah, collectors, went through at least one ownership change during the years I used to buy it. I suppose that was pretty much pre-web days (or so it felt to me - I was a very late electronic life addict) and perhaps it had greater relevance originally than magazines have today, but for my own strange and somewhat traditional tastes, I'd still rather have a nicely-printed book or magazine to enjoy, in my hands, useable anywhere I choose to see it, than surf (the web) in my office. Portable devices? A cell phone's too wee, and a small computer or pad far too much of a nuisance.

I hadn't thought consciously before about photo-books appealing only to other photographers; I'm not sure that's the full story at all. There are many about decoration, architecture, yachts, antique cars, Mediterranean gardens etc. etc. an endless list. If the three gents in the vid. are speaking exclusively about books restricted to the products of a photographer's ego, then they are probably right on the money. But books using photography is something very much else.

Rob C
« Last Edit: September 12, 2015, 12:32:42 pm by Rob C »
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amolitor

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Re: Past, Present and Future Of Photography
« Reply #26 on: September 12, 2015, 12:48:35 pm »

That's because you've got the old school mindset, Rob.

In the old days a book meant a monograph from Aperture that might sell a few thousand copies. There really were no other options. You could sell your services, your prints, or monographs published by majors.

These kids are running around doing small editions. They're making more money on an edition of 200 than you'd see on your hypothetical Aperture monograph.

They're pre-selling the entire edition, or at any rate enough to cover expenses, before they spend a dime.

I hand build editions of three which I do not sell. Making money isn't a goal for me, I have a good job, I don't need to make money.

That's just two points on a spectrum. You can dismiss it as self publishing and therefore irrelevant, I suppose, but that's pretty arbitrary. Painters are all self published too and they seem to have done some things that are worthwhile.
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luxborealis

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Re: Past, Present and Future Of Photography
« Reply #27 on: September 12, 2015, 04:40:16 pm »

I thought one of the most prescient points in the video was one Kevin made about having stacks of hard drives backed up on raids with thousands of images - what will happen to them in ten years? (@~27:30) What will happen to any of our work after we pass on? Who do you know with the time, money or interest to wade through your work looking for gems to keep? Then what do they do? Do they know how to "get them out" of that hard drive in a way that gives your work longevity?

I'm making this point because, I'm sure we can agree that we don't want our life's work to die with us, which is exactly what will happen if we leave it in electronic form.

I have always advocated to my friends, family, students and workshop participants: print your photographs, put them in albums, print-mat-frame your photos or, better yet, make photo books. Make them of your family; make them of your photographic passions. That way, your work will be with your family after you visit that great Lightroom in the sky. And it will be presented in a way you can be proud of.

Yes, it's more stuff and yes, they might just toss it after you go, but they won't do so without one last look. And maybe they might just keep a few to remember you by and all the gazillion hours you spent doing what you love.

« Last Edit: September 12, 2015, 04:43:59 pm by luxborealis »
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amolitor

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Re: Past, Present and Future Of Photography
« Reply #28 on: September 12, 2015, 04:50:49 pm »

All the digital archiving technology in the world won't make it so that anyone will look at your pictures. The best they can accomplish is to make it so they can. Reality is, alas, they probably won't.

I stick to making perhaps a couple dozen worthwhile pictures a year, and printing those. I see no need to travel the world and make thousands of exposures.

But then, I have no particular love for the process. Many people do, for them much of the joy comes before the shutter press. More power to 'em. Travel. Shoot. Love life and live large!
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landscapephoto

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Re: Past, Present and Future Of Photography
« Reply #29 on: September 12, 2015, 05:16:45 pm »

I got more like a thousand, but possibly I'm the one using the search function wrong.

Even 34 is a big number. If kickstarter is driving, I don't know, let's say 50 monographs a year, that represents a substantial difference from the picture you get at Barnes & Noble.

Kickstarter is just one slice of the indie publishing world. If your 34 is the right number, it still suggests many hundreds of titles a year finding their audiences, as a credible lower bound.

That is not what I am seeing on kickstarter. What I am seeing there is that photobooks don't sell. But I may have used the search function incorrectly. Can I have a link to a few successful kickstarter photobooks, say a dozen?

Edit: I found out I was using the search function incorrectly, there are more projects than the few I found.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2015, 02:12:45 am by landscapephoto »
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landscapephoto

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Re: Past, Present and Future Of Photography
« Reply #30 on: September 12, 2015, 05:17:35 pm »

All the digital archiving technology in the world won't make it so that anyone will look at your pictures. The best they can accomplish is to make it so they can. Reality is, alas, they probably won't

That is so sad and so true at the same time.
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amolitor

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Re: Past, Present and Future Of Photography
« Reply #31 on: September 12, 2015, 06:28:04 pm »

I am disinclined to start laboriously cutting and pasting links.

I go to kickstarter.com

I click Discover and put in "photography book" (no quotes) in the search box.

This turns up 1,700 or so results.

Filtering that to results that are at least 100% funded leaves 556 projects. Not all of them are actually photo book projects but a quick skim suggests that most of them at least include printing a book.
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trichardlin

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Re: Past, Present and Future Of Photography
« Reply #32 on: September 12, 2015, 11:22:29 pm »

That is not what I am seeing on kickstarter. What I am seeing there is that photobooks don't sell. But I may have used the search function incorrectly. Can I have a link to a few successful kickstarter photobooks, say a dozen?

I got 866 project when I search "photobooks". Sorted by "most funded" the number 12 is Armenian Diaspora Project, it has 513 backers who pledged $61,138.

The search link: https://www.kickstarter.com/discover/advanced?term=photobooks&sort=most_funded
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landscapephoto

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Re: Past, Present and Future Of Photography
« Reply #33 on: September 13, 2015, 02:10:19 am »

Now I understand. Kickstarter was only finding a subset of the photobooks for me, apparently because I clicked the "discover" button earlier.

So, apparently, hundreds of photographer manage to finance photobooks on kickstarter. How does that work? What is the difference between projects which are not backed (there are many) and projects which attract hundreds of backers?
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Kevin Raber

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Re: Past, Present and Future Of Photography
« Reply #34 on: September 13, 2015, 07:29:28 am »

We have published two articles here on Luminous-Landscape on this . . .

https://luminous-landscape.com/self-publishing-a-landscape-photography-book/

https://luminous-landscape.com/self-publishing-a-photography-book-part-deux/

Both books have been published.  I have backed both books as I do a number of different projects on Kickstarter.

Kevin Raber
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FMueller

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Re: Past, Present and Future Of Photography
« Reply #35 on: September 13, 2015, 09:56:34 am »

As far as I can tell the most archivally stable method of preserving your images is to put them on paper. Yes, it needs to be the right paper with stable inks or one of the known archival chemical photo processes, but storing your photos in bits and bytes will consign them to oblivion as your heirs try to sort through your belongings on that eventual day. Maybe that's a good thing? Maybe it's not.

Brooks Jensen has been a longtime proponent of the physical object as the ultimate work of art, whether it be in the form of a single print, a folio or a form of book. He is no Luddite though and happily and enthusiastically creates and distributes work in PDF format and provides step by step instruction for doing it yourself.

I remember the first time I heard Brooks Jensen reference Alvin Toffler's "Third Wave" and I began rolling my eyes but I continued listening and Brooks made some really good points using the term "demassification". It was his argument to proceed with finding your audience and distributing your work at a price that encourages people to buy and share your work. Don't wait for a book deal to come your way, because it won't. Brooks Jensen has made a life and career of promoting photography as art, others as well as his own. It would be a disservice to say Brooks Jensen is smart and an entrepreneur even though he is both of those things, more importantly he is a man on a mission and he is really worth listening to.
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amolitor

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Re: Past, Present and Future Of Photography
« Reply #36 on: September 13, 2015, 10:10:41 am »

"Serious" photographers often pooh-pooh Instagram and Tumblr and the like.

But these venues are where much of the action happens.

Set up your Tumblr blog. Start publishing your work. Your best work. Social network your ass off. Comment, follow, friend, whatever the local idioms are.

Find your audience and help them find you.

When you've worked your way up to a few thousand, poll them to see if they'd buy a book. Be specific, give options.

Divide the numbers by ten.

If they still work, launch a kickstarter to raise funds and promote it heavily with your fans. Have cheap electronic rewards, but make them personal, as well as simply copies of the book, to monetize the fans who don't have much money or who simply don't want the physical thing.

If you get funded, print.

Roughly, anyways.
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landscapephoto

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Re: Past, Present and Future Of Photography
« Reply #37 on: September 13, 2015, 11:38:17 am »

I am still trying to understand.

I read the articles, and a few others. If I understood correctly, one of the main factors which is necessary for a successful kickstarter campaign is to be able to reach enough people. Rule of thumb figures: for a photobook print run is about 1000, one needs about 400 backers to break even. To get 400 people to back a project on kickstarter, one needs to contact at least 10 times that amount of people (not everyone who is contacted will go to the project on kickstarter and not everyone who actually goes to kickstarter will back the project. The article talks about a 8% "conversion rate".

So, to be able to actually publish a photobook on that system, one needs to advertise it to at least 4000 people, and that is an optimistic assumption. How does one do that?

I have seen two suggestions: tumblr and facebook. Obviously, to reach that minimum number of 4000 people, one would need to have 4000 facebook "friends" (or tumblr "followers"). Do you? I don't. I don't actually know anyone with so many facebook friends.

So I am still trying to understand, but I don't think I do.
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amolitor

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Re: Past, Present and Future Of Photography
« Reply #38 on: September 13, 2015, 12:15:33 pm »

1000 books is an enormous number. That's a pretty decent sales figure for a nice book from a major publisher. It's not one of the 'hits' but it's a respectable number for the basic catalog.

Think more like 200. Or 100.

But yes, you need 1000s of fans. You can get them, but it's work. Hey out there on one or two social media platforms and network your ass off.

Find people who seem as if they might like your pictures. Friend them or follow them. Comment on their pictures. Favorite, like, +1 them. But comment as well. You need to reach them on a personal level.

Spend an hour a day networking, for a year. Make genuine friends out of people you want to follow you. It almost doesn't matter what you shoot.

Nudes are the easiest, though.



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landscapephoto

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Re: Past, Present and Future Of Photography
« Reply #39 on: September 13, 2015, 12:50:05 pm »

1000 books is an enormous number. That's a pretty decent sales figure for a nice book from a major publisher. It's not one of the 'hits' but it's a respectable number for the basic catalog.

Think more like 200. Or 100.

I don't agree. I know the printing costs. You have two choices:
-small run print, and then each photobook costs so much to print that you will not make any profit (but you can make only 100 indeed)
-normal printing press, the costs are then much smaller so that you can make a profit, but you need at least 500 copies. And you might as well print 1000, because it is almost the same price as 500.

Quote
But yes, you need 1000s of fans. You can get them, but it's work. Hey out there on one or two social media platforms and network your ass off.

Find people who seem as if they might like your pictures. Friend them or follow them. Comment on their pictures. Favorite, like, +1 them. But comment as well. You need to reach them on a personal level.

Spend an hour a day networking, for a year. Make genuine friends out of people you want to follow you. It almost doesn't matter what you shoot.

You are not talking from personal experience and neither am I, so I think our opinions are to be taken with a grain of salt. I don't think an hour a day would be sufficient to get this kind of network, I think it is more like a second full time job. And, personally, if I had the kind of audience that would allow me 400 sales regularly, I would sell them better stuff than photobooks.

In the meantime, I have looked at instagram. It seems that if you want to be considered as "influential" on instagram, you will need something like 30000 followers at least ("mustafaseven" has 1 million...). So, maybe 4000 is very optimistic.

With these kind of numbers, we are not talking about "networking around one's friends". We are talking about a full-time marketing job. That is completely different. And, because of the sheer number of followers, you will also need pictures tailored to mainstream tastes.

« Last Edit: September 13, 2015, 01:15:19 pm by landscapephoto »
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